Head coach Ronald Koeman could not hide his disappointment after the Netherlands laboured to a 3-0 win in Rotterdam against footballing minnows Gibraltar.
Two headed goals by Memphis Depay and Nathan Aké, both set up by looping crosses from Denzel Dumfries on the right, gave Oranje a 2-0 lead early in the second half.
Gibraltar’s task grew even harder when Liam Walker was sent off in the 50th minute for a heavy challenge on debutant Mats Wieffer. But they continued to defend stubbornly against the blunt-force Dutch attack, with only a deflected shot by Aké finding its way through.
Koeman was relieved to close out a week that was rocked by an illness in the camp that deprived him of five players against France. Two of them, Cody Gakpo and Matthijs de Ligt, were restored to the line-up against Gibraltar but were unable to last the full 90 minutes.
Depay was replaced in the second half after pulling up with a hamstring injury, the latest setback in a season when he has struggled for form and fitness.
Koeman said his team were ‘imprecise’ and ‘at times sloppy’, converting just three chances from 51 recorded shots at goal against a country whose entire population would comfortably fit inside De Kuip stadium.
‘We had a number of chances where if we’d been a little sharper the goals would have come, but overall it was less than I’d hoped,’ the manager said. ‘It’s clear that our football needs to be a lot better.’
In the other match in Group B, France followed up their 4-0 win against the Dutch by beating Ireland 1-0 in Dublin. Oranje’s next match is at home to Greece on September 7.
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